Using Topical Sprays to Treat Dog Allergies

Topical sprays are sometimes diagnosed to control itching associated with atopic dermatitis in dogs.  As an alternative to steroid treatment, topical sprays contain the corticosteroid triamcinolone, which is used to block substances that trigger an allergic response.

Topical Spray Benefits:

  • Reduces itchiness due to allergies.
  • May minimize need for steroid treatments.
  • Can be used to minimize itching due to flea allergies.

Topical Spray Drawbacks:

  • Does not help with hair loss, infections or other allergy-related symptoms.
  • Helps to minimize symptoms, but doesn’t eliminate allergies.
Dog allergies red skin
Elsie's irritated paws

Before we started Elsie on allergy shots, we regularly used Genesis Topical Spray on her red, inflamed paws.  It seemed to help with her itching, although the spray tended to make her uncomfortable – I imagine it stung when it touched her raw feet.  Genesis can be purchased from your veterinarian or through online pet medication sources, but does require a prescription.

Dog Allergy Causes. Dust Allergies & Dust Mites.

Like humans, dogs can also become sensitive to dust and develop allergies over time.  When we talk about dust allergies, what we’re really talking about are dust mites.

Dust mites, related to spiders, are creatures who feed off of skin cells shed by people and animals.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you look at that photo!) these little mites are so small that they can only be seen with a microscope.  This means you could have a raging dust mite problem and not know it.

Dust mites are happiest in warm, humid environments. And, since they feed off of dead skin cells, they are most often found in bedding, furniture and carpeting.  Bedrooms are a popular hangout for dust mites.  Many dogs sleep in their owners’ bedroom, which can be a problem if they are sensitive to dust mites.

If your dog has a dust mite allergy, you’ll likely see them itching and chewing at their skin.  When our dog Elsie was allergy tested, we found that one of the many items she was allergic to, was dust.  Does this mean we found a way to eliminate all dust from our home?  Heck no!  Fat chance of that. But, we have found ways to make our home less hospitable for these little pests.

Later, when we discuss dog allergy treatments, we’ll talk about how you can minimize dust mite problems in your home.

Dog Allergy Symptom #4. Licking and Chewing Their Feet.

Dog PawsWhen our dog Elsie was less than a year old, she started to lick her paws whenever she was resting. I had read that Boxers were fastidious cleaners, so I assumed that this was a breed trait coming out and thought cleanliness was a good thing.

Over time, her foot licking became more frequent and vigorous, and eventually lead to foot chewing. She would often wake up from a deep sleep and start biting and chewing her feet such intensity that we realized something wasn’t right. Her paws became red and irritated and the hair around her toes became thin.

At closer inspection, we noticed that the skin between Elsie’s toes and the area around her nails were becoming a dark brownish, red color. Our puppy’s beautiful white “socks” were turning a rusty red and she was clearly uncomfortable.

Obsessive foot licking and chewing is a common sign of atopic dermatitis or skin allergies.  If you find that your dog is constantly licking or gnawing at their feet, it is quite possible that they are suffering from allergies.

Before you jump to any conclusions, you’ll want to inspect their feet. Gently check between their toes and the bottom of their paw pads to make sure there aren’t any cuts or splinter.  If you have a dog with longer hair, make sure they don’t have any items like matted fur or sticks or burs which may be irritating their feet.

Once you’ve determined that your dog’s licking and chewing is not related to an injury or irritant, take your dog in to a veterinarian. Too much foot chewing can lead to bacterial infections or other skin problems. Plus, it can make life quite uncomfortable for your furry friend.

Once we found an allergy treatment that worked for Elsie (more on that later), her rusty red feet eventually reverted back to their original pretty white coloring. She no longer licks or chews on her feet and is able to relax like a normal dog.